City council votes for delay on Polo Park residential development

By | May 6, 2020

The development of residential housing around Polo Park mall has hit an air pocket as Winnipeg’s city council voted to delay a decision to change a plan that restricts that type of expansion in the area.

The month-long delay comes after the Winnipeg Airports Authority sent notice to the city on Tuesday seeking a review of changes to the city’s planning framework known as the Airport Vicinity Protection Area, which restricts residential development around the airport. 

City council voted in favour of the month-long delay after its legal department signaled it needed clarity on the WAA’s request.

The letter to the city from the WAA says the airports authority has the right to appeal to the municipal board “in the name of the government of Canada.”

The city solicitor is asking for time to clarify if the WAA actually has that kind of privilege.

The understanding of the city is that the WAA is “a community-based, non-share capital corporation that operates, manages and maintains Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.”

“What is unclear from the letter is whether the government of Canada has given legal authority to the Winnipeg Airports Authority to make an objection to the proposed bylaw,” wrote city solicitor Doug Brown.

The Winnipeg Airports Authority has frozen the process to change the area plan around Polo Park by asking for the province’s municipal board to step in to the matter. (John Einarson/CBC)

The delay — and the position of the airports authority — does not need an explanation, according to Shindico Realty, one of the developers hoping to build residential housing and other amenities around Polo Park.

 “We have not seen any evidence that the WAA has the authority to object to this matter on behalf of the federal government. We are disappointed this matter has been further delayed by the airport and we look forward to having council decide on this matter at the next meeting,” said Shindico general counsel Justin Zarnowski.

In the meantime, the move by the WAA has dried up any information coming from city hall about the process.

Mayor Brian Bowman says the city has rules about speaking to what’s happened and declined to comment about the move by the WAA.

“I know there are number of parties who have a keen interest in this particular vote and I will just remind everybody, whether it’s the province, the developer, the airport, members of council — we have rules governing hearing processes at city hall that do not allow members of council, including myself to consider new information and we need to follow those rules,” Bowman told reporters after the council meeting.

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